Rapeseed, sunflower and soybean meals as protein supplements in dairy calf starters.
Forty-eight Holstein calves were divided into three equal groups and fed starter rations supplemented with rape-seed meal, sunflower meal, or soybean meal from birth to 14 wk of age. Each calf received alfalfa-brome hay ad libitum and up to 3.64 kg whole milk/day until weaned at 68.2 kg body weight. Daily starter dry-matter intake was lower for rapeseed, .67 kg/calf, than .92 and .99 kg for sunflower and soybean rations. Average daily gain (kg) and feed efficiencies (kg feed dry matter/kg gain) for calves fed rapeseed, sunflower, or soybean meals were .58, .64, .65, and 3.10, 2.96, 3.08. Digestible dry matter of soybean and rapeseed was higher than sunflower: 75 and 74 vs. 68%. Protein digestibilities for rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean meals were 79, 82, and 82%. Large variations occurred in amounts of rumen ammonia, blood urea, and blood ammonia. Rapeseed and sunflower meals can be used successfully as protein supplements in calf starter rations though the former may be unpalatable.